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Right of demonstration not to incite violence

Political Broad (summary)


Laurie Chapman

On Dec. 30, 2016, I traveled to the Grangeville Centennial Library for a little research. I found a large, three-dimensional display marking the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.

Then began Political Broad, a blog where once every two weeks I take a peek at the functions of government. To get readers up to speed, I have focused the past three blog posts on the Bill of Rights.

Following the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutional Convention assembled in Philadelphia. On Sept. 17, 1788, the Constitution was signed. James Madison opted to introduce a list of amendments. By Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the states.

The First and Second amendments of the Bill of Rights can be summarized as follows:

Every person may practice their religious beliefs without consequence. With that comes an obligation to realize others are entitled to the same rights. However, religious-based actions must conform to all laws of the land.

Citizens also have the right to speak their mind without fear of governmental reprisal. The press has the right to publish information without governmental interference. Libel, obscenity and sedition laws exist to rein in the press.

The people may gather in peaceful demonstration; however, they may not riot, engage in violence or incite violence, and prohibit flow of traffic in streets. Any actions that endanger another’s life or threaten others falls out of the realm of peaceful demonstration.

Citizens also have the right to make a complaint against the government without fear of reprisal. They may also seek assistance without fear of punishment.

In the second amendment, the government may not infringe on the right of citizens to maintain a militia, and to bear arms. A militia is a citizen army, separate from the nation’s armed forces.

The courts over the years have sought to determine the full scope of the right to bear arms. As society faces an increasing barrage of gun violence, we struggle to balance this right with our desire to maintain safe communities.


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